In case you have time on November 28, you might want to listen in to the summit convened by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. It will be live streamed at

Jeb Bush is now a key figure in the reform movement. He is a strong supporter of charters and vouchers. He wants all teachers and all schools to get a grade based on the test scores of students. His foundation is supported by many foundations; see the list below (including Gates), and by technology companies and charter chains. Bush is a cheerleader for the digitization of classrooms. He foresees the day when there are fewer teachers and more online learning.

What a cool summit this will be!

So many superstars of reform in one place!

You will get to hear David Coleman, president of the College Board and architect of the Common Core standards.

You will notice that one of the keynote speakers at this conservative event is Arne Duncan. Another is John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, who headed Obama’s transition team in 2008. You might wonder why Duncan and Podesta are there, especially there are rumors that Bush will pursue the presidency in 2016. Just think of it as a testament to bipartisan comity around a shared agenda.

Recently defeated Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett will appear, as will Kevin Huffman of Tennessee, now serving one of the nation’s most conservative governors and legislatures.

You will get to hear Condoleeza Rice and Joel Klein explain why our public schools are “a very grave threat to national security,” and why we need charters and vouchers.

Another really cool thing is that they are showing “Won’t Back Down.” It was released on September 28 and a month later it had almost disappeared from the nation’s theaters. Last weekend it was showing in only 24 theaters in the entire USA. This will be one of the few places in America where you can still see it.

Here is the press release; the agenda follows.

WASHINGTON – The Foundation for Excellence in Education today announced its final general and strategy sessions for the fifth annual Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC, Nov. 27-28.

During the general session “Won’t Back Down Movie and Parent Trigger,” attendees will hear the story behind the film that premiered in September. Reporter and education reform supporter Campbell Brown will discuss with Shirley Ford of Parent Revolution and Dr. Gloria Romero, California director of Democrats for Education Reform and former California State Senator, how this powerful, parent-driven movement is inspiring change across the nation.

Don’t miss “Common Core State Standards,” as Governor Jeb Bush joins David Coleman, President and CEO of the College Board; Bob Corcoran, President and Chairman of the GE Foundation; and Dr. William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor and Co-Director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, to discuss implementing these new standards and ensuring today’s students are equipped with a world-class education.

Strategy sessions will include “Charter Schools: Accountability and Funding,” “The Florida Formula for Student Achievement,” “Implementing Bold Teacher-Effectiveness Reform,” “Recruiting and Retaining Great Principals” and many more. Click here to view all strategy sessions and the complete event agenda.

Unfortunately, we have reached maximum capacity for the Summit, and registration is closed. However, you can enjoy this exciting event from the comfort of your own computer. All keynote speeches and general sessions will be streamed live at, and all strategy sessions will be filmed and available after the event. Click here to view this year’s agenda.

Members of the press are welcome to cover the conference, including keynote and strategy sessions; however, participation in Q & A times is reserved for attendees. For more details and to apply for credentials for this event, please click here.

The Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform annually immerses lawmakers and policymakers in two days of in-depth discussions on proven policies and innovative strategies to improve student achievement. For all things related to the Summit, check out the #EIA12 app at This mobile app puts the event agenda and information about speakers, strategy sessions and our partners at your fingertips.


For media inquiries, contact Jaryn Emhof, Communications Director, at 850-391-4090 or


The Foundation for Excellence in Education thanks the following donors for their generous support of the 2012 National Summit on Education Reform: Visionary: GE Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Broad Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Robertson Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, Achiever: Amplify, Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, GlobalScholar, The Kern Family Foundation, Microsoft, The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Susan & Bill Oberndorf, Pearson, Target, Reformer: Challenge Foundation, The Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, K12, Intel, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, Scholar: Academica, Alvarez & Marsal, Apex Learning, Charter Schools USA, e2020, ETS, Morgridge Family Foundation, SAS, SMART Technologies, State Farm Insurance, VSCHOOLZ, William E. Simon Foundation.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is igniting a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st century economy. Excellence in Action, the organization’s flagship initiative, is working with lawmakers and policymakers to advance education reform across America. Learn more at



JW Marriott – Washington, DC

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

8:00-8:45 am Breakfast Buffet

8:45-9:30 am Opening Keynote:
Jeb Bush, Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education

9:45-11:00 am Strategy Sessions:
Strategy Session 1: Reaching More Students with Vouchers and Tax-Credit Scholarships
Whether you are an advocate of education vouchers for all or believe special scholarships should be reserved for students in failing schools, the debate on school choice is one that matters. States across the country are enacting new reforms and expanding those that already exist to ensure vouchers and tax-credit scholarships reach the kids who need them the most. Join these state lawmakers as they discuss strategies to keep up with the growing demand from families for quality school choice options.

Moderator: John Kirtley, Chairman of Step Up for Students and vice chairman of the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children


Conrad Appel, Louisiana State Senator
Algie Howell, Virginia State Delegate
Jason Nelson, Oklahoma State Representative
Bill O’Brien, New Hampshire State Representative
Strategy Session 2: Implementing Bold Teacher-Effectiveness Reform
Over the past few years, states across the country have passed reforms linking student-learning data to teacher evaluations. Now, leaders have entered the critical phase of putting the reforms into practice at the local level. Learn how these education chiefs are developing assessments and evaluation systems in their respective states to measure hard-to-test areas and elevate educators’ professional development.

Moderator: Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Secretary-Designate of Public Education and Vice-Chair of Chiefs for Change


Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education
Jill Hawley, Colorado Associate Commissioner for Achievement and Strategy
Dr. Diane Ullman, Chief Talent Officer for the Connecticut State Department of Education
Strategy Session 3: Accountability-Based Flexibility for School Districts
Across the nation, crisis situations are giving birth to new, student-centered learning models. In the midst of challenging economic times and a national focus on improving the quality of education, a new kind of school district is emerging – one with both autonomy and performance-based accountability. Learn how some of our nation’s most troubled school districts are challenging a conventional structure to change the futures of their students, schools and cities.

Moderator: Dr. Paul Hill, Founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education


David Harris, Founder and CEO of The Mind Trust
John White, Louisiana Superintendent of Education
Tyrone Winfrey, Chief of Staff of the Michigan Education Achievement Authority
11:30 am-12:45 pm Lunch Keynote:
John Podesta, Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress, with Dr. Chester E. Finn, Jr., President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

1:00-2:15 pm Strategy Sessions:
Strategy Session 4: How to Prepare for Common Core Assessments
The state-led transition to Common Core State Standards will change the expectation of what students need to be learning and is aligned with what they’ll need for success after high school in our changing world. The pressure is on for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to deliver new online assessments and for schools to build the technology infrastructure they’ll need to use those assessments. The Common Core transition brings individual opportunities for states but also challenges. Meanwhile, many state leaders are preparing parents, teachers and communities for the initial results which will likely follow new standards and assessments. Join this panel to discuss specific strategies states and districts can take to ensure everyone and everything is prepared to transition to these new assessments.

Moderator: Governor Bob Wise, President of Alliance for Excellent Education


Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chairman of Chiefs for Change
Steve Bowen, Maine Commissioner of Education
Laura McGiffert Slover, Senior Vice President of Achieve
Dr. Joe Willhoft, Executive Director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
Strategy Session 5: Transforming Colleges of Education
Nine out of every ten teachers graduate from traditional teacher prep programs at colleges of education. Should these colleges be held accountable for the caliber of students they admit into their programs and the teachers they send into the classroom? Don’t miss this discussion on what can be done to ensure new teachers entering the profession are fully equipped to help each of their students succeed.

Moderator: Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality


Dr. John Chubb, CEO of Education Sector and member of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education
Paul Pastorek, former Louisiana Superintendent of Education
Strategy Session 6: Charter Schools: Accountability and Funding
With over 40 states now authorizing charter schools, the potential for innovation continues to grow. Each state serves as a testing site for diverse approaches to approving, funding and maintaining the accountability of these unique public schools. Learn the best policies states are using to shape high-quality charter schools across the nation.

Moderator: Jeanne Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform


Todd Huston, Indiana State Representative
Peggy Lehner, Ohio State Senator
Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
James H. Shelton III, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education
2:45-4:00 pm General Session: Won’t Back Down Movie and Parent Trigger
Shirley Ford, Parent Revolution, and Dr. Gloria Romero, California Director of Democrats for Education Reform and former California State Senator, with Campbell Brown, author and journalist

4:15-5:30 pm Strategy Sessions:
Strategy Session 7: Thinking Outside the School-Zone Box
From coast to coast, states are proving there is more than one way to provide families with school choice options. Many are developing new strategies to empower parents with the ability to choose the public school that is best for their child. Listen to these battle-proven leaders share lessons learned and strategies to expand public school choice programs and remove barriers limiting students’ education options.

Moderator: Mike Petrilli, Executive Vice President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute


Matthew Barnes, Executive Director of Families Empowered
John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction
Luther Olsen, Wisconsin State Senator
Strategy Session 8: College & Career Readiness
State leaders are facing a desperate call to action: just one-third of America’s high school students graduate with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in college. This tragic reality calls for rigorous standards and innovative policies, ones that incentivize acceleration and launch students into college or gainful employment. It’s time to give students the opportunity to advance to college or careers as soon as they are ready, even if that’s earlier that the traditional K-12 calendar allows. Get the details on what methods states are using to prepare our youngest generation to thrive in today’s competitive global economy.

Moderator: Laysha Ward, President of Community Relations and the Target Foundation


David Abbott, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel at the Rhode Island Department of Education
Russell Armstrong, Education and Workforce Policy Advisor to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Joe Pickens, President of St. Johns River State College
Kelli Stargel, Florida State Senator
Strategy Session 9: Developing and Retaining Teachers We Can’t Afford to Lose
A teacher’s influence – good or bad – can have life-long effects on the students in his or her classroom. Hear new research on the teacher-retention crisis, and join the ensuing discussion on what can be done to develop and retain the high-quality educators our states need to reverse student decline and elevate the status of the teaching profession.

Moderator: Dr. Stefanie Sanford, Director of Policy & Advocacy, United States Program, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Tim Daly, President of the New Teacher Project
Christopher Cerf, New Jersey Commissioner of Education
Gary Holder-Winfield, Connecticut State Representative
6:00-7:00 pm General Reception

7:30-9:00 pm Dinner Keynote:
Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, and Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City’s public schools, with Dr. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

7:30-8:15am Breakfast Buffet

8:30-9:00 am Breakfast Keynote:
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

9:30-10:45am General Session: Common Core State Standards

Moderator: Governor Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida from 1999-2007 and Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education


David Coleman, President and CEO of the College Board
Bob Corcoran, President and Chairman of the GE Foundation
Dr. William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor and Co-Director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, Minnesota State Representative
11:00-12:15pm Strategy Sessions:
Strategy Session 10: The Florida Formula for Student Achievement
More than a dozen years ago, Florida embarked on a path to reverse a generation of decline in its public schools by forcing the system to focus on the student instead of the adult. Since then, Florida’s formula of high expectations for students, accountability for schools, choices for families and rewards for progress has yielded incredible gains in student learning. In the eight-year period prior to the reforms, graduation rates had declined by nearly seven percent, but since the reforms were put in place, graduation rates have increased by 20 percent. Education in the Sunshine State is now a model for the nation, inspiring leaders to strategically and boldly transform public education. Learn how Florida’s formula can transform student achievement for any state.

Moderator: Julia Johnson, President of Net Communications and former member of Florida’s Board of Education


Dr. Christy Hovanetz, Senior Policy Fellow at the Foundation for Excellence in Education
Dr. Matthew Ladner, Senior Advisor on Policy and Research to the Foundation for Excellence in Education
Strategy Session 11: Transforming Education for the Digital Age
Last year, Digital Learning Now! released “The Roadmap for Reform: Digital Learning,” a guide providing governors, lawmakers and policymakers with the nuts-and-bolts policies to transition to student-centered education. Now, states are changing the face of education by introducing blended learning models that combine the best of face-to-face instruction with the best of online learning. Hear state and school leaders share what they are doing – and what is yet to be done – to harness the power of technology and provide students with rigorous, high-quality, customized education.

Moderator: John Bailey, Executive Director of Digital Learning Now!


Dr. Janet Barresi, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction
Dr. Mark Edwards, Superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District
Pam Myhra, Minnesota State Representative
Governor Bev Perdue, North Carolina
Chip Rogers, Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate
Strategy Session 12: Recruiting and Retaining Great Principals
How can districts attract the best principals to their schools? Once found, can schools keep their great leaders by offering increased authority over personnel decisions and their school’s budget? Learn new, proven approaches to recruit and retain the committed principals our nation needs to prioritize students and lead our schools.

Moderator: Dr. Frederick M. Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute


Dr. Andrés Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools
Christine Campbell, Senior Research Analyst and Policy Director at the Center on Reinventing Public Education
Anitere Flores, Florida State Senator
12:302:00 pm Lunch Keynote:
Mitch Daniels, Indiana Governor